Juiceboxers - Freehand Books

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  • Publication Date: September 3, 2024
  • EAN: 9781990601712
  • 300 pages; 5½" x 8½"

A powerful debut novel about four young soldiers serving in Afghanistan, and the devastating aftermath of war.

Sixteen-year-old Plinko, attending basic training in the summer before high school starts up again in the fall, acquired his nickname when he happened to mention The Price is Right to another recruit. Feeling adrift from his own family after graduation, Plinko moves in with an older soldier, where he forges an unlikely group of friends: Walsh, who moves in shortly after Plinko does; Abdi, whose Somalian immigrant parents often welcome the group of young men over for dinner; and the unpredictable and gun-loving Krug, who is brash and exasperating yet magnetic. The four are variously involved with the military – Plinko, for instance, works as a reservist on weekends and Wednesday evenings – and they fill their days with school, part-time jobs, watching movies, ordering pizza, playing video games late into the night.

And then – 9/11. As the military prepares to move into Afghanistan, the trajectories of the four friends’ lives are changed irrevocably.

Drawn from the author’s experiences as a soldier in Afghanistan, Juiceboxers tenderly traces the story of a young man’s journey from basic training, to the battlefields of Kandahar, to the oil fields of Alberta, braiding together questions of masculinity and militarism, friendship and violence, loss and trauma, ideology and innocence.

Praise for Benjamin Hertwig

“In his quiet way, Benjamin Hertwig shows us the terror and wonder of being alive. . . . a powerful exploration of violence, longing, and the before and after of ‘time and war and other old gods’ . . . profound and beautiful.” DEBORAH CAMPBELL

“Hertwig touches on some of our deepest national myths, only to push in, breaking the veneer of patriotism to reveal something much more potent. CV2

“Hertwig remembers, in lyrical detail, moments of violence, fear, and respite. He traces violence from the schoolyard to war, and its aftermath for the soldier. The consequences of the indiscriminate violence of war are made delicate in spite of an uneasiness with making poetry of it.” MONTREAL REVIEW OF BOOKS

“Benjamin Hertwig served in the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan, and this hard-hitting debut collection is the record of a soldier’s heart, before, during and after war.” TORONTO STAR

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